The Canyons

Filmmakers go outside the box with the marketing for the Lindsay Lohan starrer

Filled with intrigue and suspense, the story follows a beautiful troubled former ingenue as she follows a path of possible self destruction … and that’s just the casting Lindsay Lohan.

The saga behind the making of Bret Easton Ellis’ modern-day film noir “The Canyons” is perhaps just as tawdry as the plot itself. Since the first day of shooting, “The Canyons” has been a dream come true for TMZ editors: naked scene shoots, screaming matches, porn stars and, of course, the media’s ever-present anticipation of Lohan’s next potential misstep.

Which begs the question: How do you market a film where the production overshadows the story?

First you have to have a writer, a producer and director willing to play with traditional concept of trailers. Then you given them some chutzpah.

But before there was marketing, there was financing, and the trio had to figure out a way to raise coin for their micro-budget pic.

In June, the first teaser trailer for “The Canyons” hit the Internet. Set to the music of the Dum Dum Girls, the slow rhythmic beat of the song “Coming Down” paired with iconic City of Angels landmarks to inspire Angelenos to pry open their wallets and give generously to “The Canyons’” Kickstarter campaign. In the end, 1,050 folks gave $159,015 to producer Braxton Pope, director Paul Schrader and writer Ellis to make their movie, which features the legit debut of porn stud James Deen.

“I worked with director Joey Valenti on the first trailer, and he brought a new dimension to it,” Pope says. “People wanted to know more about the song, the Dum Dum Girls and the movie, because at that point, it didn’t have a cast.”

In December, after filming was complete, the trio released a grindhouse-style trailer for “The Canyons,” which followed a 1970s exploitation-style template usually reserved for the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

“We didn’t want to be constrained by the usual movie trailer style,” explains Pope, who collaborated with Schrader and Ellis on the ensuing campaigns, in true DIY style. “Schrader thought misdirection would be interesting. We wanted it to be as non-traditional and unconventional as the movie. The trailers had to be different and experimental. So instead of an orthodox trailer used as a marketing tool, we wanted to play with genres and concepts, so that the trailers would lead to conversations. We didn’t want people to take us literally.”

In November, the second trailer portraying Lohan as a femme fatale caught in a ’50s melodrama hit the Web. Borrowing heavily from noir period pics like “Man Bait” or “Blonde Ice,” the trailer comes closest to “The Canyons’” tone.

“Film noir is a huge interest of mine, and when Bret wrote the script, he defined it as a contemporary noir, so that was the style that we shared an affinity for,” says Pope.

The third trailer, released in December, depicted the heady drama as a screwball ’30s comedy. Even the producer admits this was strange departure for a genre-bending, tongue-in-cheek trailer.

“This trailer is the furthest from the actual movie,” Pope says.

One more trailer is expected, which will be generated by IFC, and “will reflect the tone and sensibility of the movie,” says Pope.

In addition, Pope has commissioned an animated short from filmmaker Sascha Ciezata as “kind of a companion art piece.”

Also, we have been very open to the community of fans and people who have sent in things for ‘The Canyons.’ We want to continue that.”

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